Wednesday, April 11, 2007

For I Knew How Stubborn You Were

Isaiah 45-49 contain vivid poetry concerning a salvation-generous God summoning stubborn-hearted citizens.

How generous is God's salvation? He chooses a man named Cyrus the Great - a mighty Persian king - to release the Israelites from cruel Babylonian captivity. How stubborn-hearted are the citizens of Israel? They attribute their freedom to their gods of wood and stone, and then they refuse to leave Babylon.

God comes across as vulnerable in these poems, almost wounded by the rejection of His special nation. He takes great pains to point out His appointment of Cyrus to conquer Babylon, He spends quite a few words describing the impotence of the oppressor's gods.

But no matter how much God extols himself, his superiority, his generous salvation, his mighty power to deliver - he notes with some cynicism the expected reaction of his stubborn-hearted people: anything/anyone but God was responsible for their freedom.

God says of them - in strong, visual verbage:
For I knew how stubborn you were;
the sinews of your neck were iron,
your forehead bronze.

Yikes! Yet, despite their iron-obstinancy, God extends to them Himself! And why? He writes:
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed by another?
I will not yield my glory to another.

God's glory is so grand...inconceivably so...beautiful and mind-boggling...and it is greater then our stubborn-hearted, stupid-brained responses to God's work in our life. Which should give you hope for yourself, if you are despairing of your own dumb mistakes. And it should draw out patience as you respond to others acting stubbornly and stupidly.

For God knows how stubborn you were...and are...and yet:
Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountaints!
For the LORD comforts his (stubborn-hearted) people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

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